VIF Delegation Visit to Myanmar
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A delegation from VIF led by Dr. Arvind Gupta, Director and comprising of Lt Gen (Retd) Ravi Sawhney, Amb (Retd) Gautam Mukhopadhaya, Dr Sreeradha Datta and Col Jaideep Chanda visited Myanmar from 9 – 12 December 2019.

The delegation interacted with Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies (MISIS) wherein the Chairman Amb. Nyunt Maung Shein and his colleagues briefed us in detail on the Rohingya crisis and India Myanmar relations. The Chairman informed us that even as we spoke the Bangladesh Army Chief was in Myanmar for a bilateral visit and they were hoping for a way forward on the Rohingya issue. Currently, the Rohingyas were laying down conditions of citizenship for return, which was not acceptable to Myanmar. Return would have to be unconditional. Other members informed the VIF delegation that Myanmar was not able to fight the perception battle and hence with social media, the world media and opinion had turned against it.

U Kyaw Myaing, a member of the MISIS delegation and Union Enterprises for Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Development (UEHRD) Communications Director and also Advisor, ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation, explained Myanmar’s strategy to resolve the Rohingya situation through a comprehensive plan. The return of the Rohingyas was one of the issues, their resettlement and livelihood options needs attention too. The National League for Democracy was aiming to carry out democratic transition from the military dominated one to a civilian one through more reforms; root out corruption and work towards peace for the whole of Myanmar.

U Laphai Zaw Goone, former diplomat and member of the Human Rights Commission also highlighted the need for issue of visa to students applying to study in Arunachal Pradesh. Bilateral cooperation in the education sector would be beneficial for both the neighbours.

The delegation also interacted with the Commandant of the National Defence College Maj Gen Myat Kyaw and several of his colleagues, at Nay Pyi Taw. The Commandant gave his perspective of the operations in Rakhine and assured that no ‘genocide’ has taken place though instances of human rights violations have taken place. Maj Gen Myat Kyaw, in his capacity as the head of the Court of Inquiry on human rights violations in Rakhine, carried out the investigations at three military units including a command headquarter, three police stations, a prison and five villages in Buthidaung area and has recommended Court Martial of certain troops.

The visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was hosted by three deputy director-generals; Mr. Kyaw Tin Shein, Mr. Thet Win and Mr Aye KoKo, dealing with India at the foreign office. The interactions were fruitful and the need for enhanced people to people contact was an important takeaway. The delegation was candid in the need for grudgingly accepting Chinese investments in the absence of investments from other sources, including Indian sources.

Finally, the delegation also interacted with the members of the Indo- Myanmar Chambers of Commerce in a programme titled ‘Understanding Business Climate in Myanmar’ where it was brought out that most people in India and other parts of the world are still under the impression that Myanmar is still under sanctions. It was brought out that the Myanmar economy would benefit from Indian support and there were several areas where Indian investments would be welcome.

Col Jaideep Chanda of the delegation remained in Yangon for three additional days and interacted with three think tanks viz. Myanmar Institute of Peace and Security (MIPS), Thayninga Institute of Strategic Studies (TISS) and the Institute for Strategy and Policy – Myanmar (ISP Myanmar) and representatives of a few Indian Public Sector Units. All the three think tanks were found to be extremely focused on different aspects of policy building and they all welcomed greater interaction with Indian think tanks. The role of academia and civil society in addressing outstanding issues remains significant for both India and Myanmar.

Event Date 
December 9, 2019
December 12, 2019

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